Neo-Soviet Russia goes Berzerk
The cell is a concrete box, 1.5 by three metres, without a window and without even a mattress. A bare floor and that’s it. Absurdly, they have charged me with disobeying the police. For three hours the police bosses didn’t know what to charge me with; then they received an order from upstairs. I understand this action is designed to frighten the opposition. They are mad and don’t know what to do with us. We cannot and will not give in.
— Note written by former Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and smuggled out of his jail cell in Moscow following his arrest for publicly criticizing the Putin regime in a permitted demonstration
Vladimir Putin started of 2011 by making it seem that his New Year’s resolution was to conclusively prove to the world once and for all that his country has gone berzerk.
First, one of his “judges” convicted Mikhail Khodorkovsky again, ignoring his years of incarceration in Siberia and ignoring the fact that the evidence against him was a total charade. As we report in today’s issue, the “judge” cited testimony from witnesses who said Khodorkovsky did not steal oil as proof that he had done so, and convicted him of stealing more oil than the prosecution had accused him of doing. He was then sentenced to the absolute maximum allowable by law.
Then, another one of Putin’s “judges” convicted Boris Nemtsov of participating in an illegal demonstration even though the event had the formal written permission of the government. As we report in today’s issue, Nemtsov was held in a cell with bare walls (no windows, ventilation, raised bed or even mattress on the floor) and made to stand through his entire four-hour “trial.” Unlike Khodorkovsky, the only “crime” of which Nemtsov was even accused is speaking to harshly about the Kremlin’s crackdown on democracy. Unlike Khodorkovsky, too, Nemtsov has held high-ranking government positions and been elected to office.
But the rule of law, of course, is a meaningless concept for the barbaric clan of apes that now rules Russia.
At last, the world is finally coming round to listen to the warning we have been issuing here on this blog since April 2006. An editorial in the Economist says it best:
That requires a show of principle and a change in tactics. The West should recognise that this marks a new, more repressive phase of Mr Putin’s rule, and treat Mr Nemtsov as a prisoner of conscience. America has complained, as have some members of the European Parliament, but European leaders have been shamefully silent. Of course, Russia will continue to reject any protests—as it did over Mr Khodorkovsky’s sentence—but if the Europeans are silent, Mr Putin will assume that they acquiesce. The EU’s interests may differ from America’s in dealing with Russia, but its values do not. Fabricating cases against political opponents is unacceptable whether you are in Paris, Berlin or Washington. If Russia continues to act in this way, it should be chucked out of the G8.
It is time for the world’s democratic leaders to heed this warning. Nobody can now deny that the world is faced with a barbaric neo-Soviet state which presents exactly the same type of threat to our way of life that was posed by the USSR. Indeed, the neo-Soviet regime is run by a clan of proud KGB spies who are relics of the USSR, and know no other way of behaving.
The notion that Russia was somehow moving away from that dark past, that “president” Dima Medvedev could somehow protect people like Nemtsov and Khodorkovsky from further abuse, has been utterly destroyed. It is clear that if the West continues to ignore neo-Soviet Russia, its crackdowns will only become more frequent and bloody.
Therefore, the West must act now.